In a study showing how obesity can harm sexual health, researchers reported that obese men are more likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction.

In the United States, two-thirds of adults are overweight or obese.

“In public health terms, the study lends a new slant to a familiar message: that obesity can harm not only health and longevity, but your sex life,” Sandy Goldbeck-Wood, a specialist in psychosexual medicine at Britain’s Ipswich Hospital, wrote in an editorial on the study in the British Medical Journal (BMJ).

The research, led by Professor Nathalie Bajos of France’s National Institute for Health and Medical Research (INSERM), is the first major study to investigate the impact of being overweight or obese on sexual activity and other factors such as sexual satisfaction, unintended pregnancy and abortion.

The authors surveyed the sexual behavior of 12,364 men and women aged between 18 and 69 years in France in 2006. Around half of them were normal weight, with a body mass index (BMI) of 18.5 to 25, around 2,500 of them were overweight, with a BMI of 25 to 30, and around 750 of them were obese, with a BMI over 30.

Compared to normal weight men, obese men were 70 percent less likely to have had more than one sexual partner in the past year and two and half times more likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction. Obese men under 30 years old were far more likely to have had a sexually transmitted disease.

Sexual dysfunction was not linked to BMI in women, but obese women under 30 years old were less likely than women of normal weight to seek contraceptive advice or use oral contraceptives and were also more likely to report an unplanned pregnancy.

The study also found that obese women were five times as likely to have met their partner on the internet, more likely to have an obese partner, and less likely to view sex as important for personal life balance.

Bajos said social pressure, low self-esteem and concerns about body image may help explain these findings.

Goldbeck-Wood said there was evidence that doctors find it difficult to discuss sex and weight issues with patients, but she said they must be more prepared to do so: “We need to understand more about how obese people feel about their sex lives, and what drives the observed behaviors and attitudes.”

Here is a study that found weight loss improves sexual function in overweight men: LINK HERE

Here is the abstract:

Objective: Abdominal obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus are associated with erectile and urinary dysfunction in men. The extent to which sexual function and lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTSs) are improved by weight loss remains unclear.Subjects:We compared the effects of 8 weeks of a low-calorie diet using meal replacements (Kicstart) on insulin sensitivity, plasma testosterone levels, erectile function (measured by the five-item version of the International Index of Erectile Function, IIEF-5), sexual desire (measured by the Sexual Desire Inventory, SDI) and LUTS (measured by the International Prostate Symptom Score, IPSS), in abdominally obese (body mass index >/=30 kg m(-2), waist circumference (WC) >/=102 cm) men (mean age 49.7 years) with uncomplicated diet or oral hypoglycemic-treated type 2 diabetes mellitus (n=19) or without type 2 diabetes mellitus (n=25), with a control group of nondiabetic men (n=26) with similar body mass index and WC.Results:Weight loss of approximately 10% was significantly associated with increased insulin sensitivity, plasma testosterone levels, IIEF-5 and SDI scores, as well as reduced WC and IPSS scores, in diabetic as well as nondiabetic men. The degree of weight loss was significantly associated with improvements in plasma testosterone levels (r=-0.34), erectile function (r=-0.26) and LUTS (r=0.65). Reduction in LUTS was significantly associated with increased plasma testosterone (r=-0.35), erectile function (r=-0.42) and sexual desire (r=-0.40).Conclusions:Diet-induced weight loss significantly and rapidly improves sexual function, and reduces LUTS, in obese middle-aged men with or without diabetes.International Journal of Obesity advance online publication, 20 April 2010; doi:10.1038/ijo.2010.76.

Here is a link to a report on the global problem of obesity: LINK HERE